We lost our niece Charlotte 4 years ago today. We love her and miss her and think of her often.
Molly and Charlotte
I don't think that I have shared Charlotte's story with you all. Charlotte was born healthy and happy- the 4th child of my twin sister Molly. There was no indication that anything was wrong physically. She grew and matured, eating and sleeping as a baby would. When she was about 9 or 10 months old- and I may be wrong about this age- she would get sick and would stay sick longer than usual.
The first indication that I had that something was wrong came when she was about 13 months old. My Mom called and said that Charlotte had not eaten for several days and that she was not walking very much. I knew something was wrong.
In June of 2009 we had a Hulihan Family Reunion at two rented houses in Utah, north of Salt Lake. The first night we got there I saw Charlotte. At 16 months, she was laying calmly in someone's arms as her Mother fed her applesauce. She had been sick recently and was still fighting it off. She seemed to me to be younger than 16 months old.
Later that night, Charlotte developed a fever. (The rest is from my recollection and I could be wrong on some points). Her Parents, worried, took her to the ER. On the way, she slipped into a coma.
The admitting hospital decided to fly her to the Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Since we were at a Family Reunion, we were all in Utah and that turned out to be a great blessing from Heavenly Father. The next day or the day after, we all went to go visit baby Charlotte in the hospital. We had been told that from the extent of her coma she would mostly likely not wake up and that if she did, she would probably be brain dead.
To go see her in such circumstances is more that I can describe. I can't describe the sadness that we felt at the circumstances.I can't describe all of the mixed emotions we felt- denial, confusion, sadness, worry. But, as we stood in her small, curtained space, shedding more tears than I knew was even possible, there was a sense of love as well. Our Heavenly Father knew what we were going through as a family and He blessed us with strength, understanding and unity. We left, feeling helpless yet we still with a shred of hope.
We came to learn that Charlotte had a rare form of a genetic Mitochondrial Disease. She would get sick and her body would not be able to fight it off. We were told she would not wake up from her coma. I don't remember them telling us this, or us just knowing it. The family reunion ended and we went to our various homes. The hospital allowed Charlotte to be released to spent her last week in the arms of her loving family at a family member's home in Salt Lake. Those were precious days of holding Charlotte, taking pictures of her and loving on her.
We miss Charlotte so much. Every time her birthday rolls around in February and then the day she passed away in June, we pause and remember our sweet little angel. I know she has talked and laughed with our family members who have come down to earth since and the ones that still will come. She is a treasure. She is a sweetheart. And we are proud to call her our niece.